a world yet inchoate
- photo by Mitch Waxman
Unutterable, the name which must not be mentioned torments a humble narrator. Sure knowledge that the mortal remains of its bearer lie amongst the emerald devastations of First Calvary Cemetery renders a psychological state in my feeble mind which can only be compared to the plight of Tantalus.
In mythology, Tantalus became one of the inhabitants of Tartarus, the deepest portion of the Underworld, reserved for the punishment of evildoers; there Odysseus saw him. The association of Tantalus with the underworld is underscored by the names of his mother Plouto (“riches”, as in gold and other mineral wealth), and grandmother, Chthonia (“earth”).
Tantalus was initially known for having been welcomed to Zeus’ table in Olympus, like Ixion. There he is said to have misbehaved and stolen ambrosia and nectar to bring it back to his people, and revealed the secrets of the gods.
Most famously, Tantalus offered up his son, Pelops, as sacrifice. He cut Pelops up, boiled him, and served him up in a banquet for the gods. The gods became aware of the gruesome nature of the menu, so they didn’t touch the offering; only Demeter, distraught by the loss of her daughter, Persephone, absentmindedly ate part of the boy’s shoulder. Clotho, one of the three Fates, ordered by Zeus, brought the boy to life again (she collected the parts of the body and boiled them in a sacred cauldron), rebuilding his shoulder with one wrought of ivory made by Hephaestus and presented by Demeter. The revived Pelops grew to be an extraordinarily handsome youth, so much so that the god Poseidon fell in love with him and abducted him to Mount Olympus. Later, Zeus threw Pelops out of Olympus due to his anger at Tantalus. The Greeks of classical times claimed to be horrified by Tantalus’s doings; cannibalism, human sacrifice and infanticide were atrocities and taboo.
Tantalus’s punishment for his act, now a proverbial term for temptation without satisfaction (the source of the word “tantalise”), was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded before he could get any. Over his head towers a threatening stone, like that of Sisyphus.
- photo by Mitch Waxman
Reduced to performing a visual inventory of the multitudes here, I have been walking a search pattern composed of interlocking octagons, trampling across the loam of grief and loss. Several times, disturbing subsidence and vegetation choked ruts have nearly caused severe injury, as I’m not watching out for where I am but rather for where I’m going.
This is a video game technique (shoot where they’re going to be, not where they are), one which can be hazardous to follow in the existential realities which surround that extinction of joy known as the Newtown Creek.
Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche were two of the first philosophers considered fundamental to the existentialist movement, though neither used the term “existentialism” and it is unclear whether they would have supported the existentialism of the 20th century. They focused on subjective human experience rather than the objective truths of mathematics and science, which they believed were too detached or observational to truly get at the human experience. Like Pascal, they were interested in people’s quiet struggle with the apparent meaninglessness of life and the use of diversion to escape from boredom. Unlike Pascal, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche also considered the role of making free choices, particularly regarding fundamental values and beliefs, and how such choices change the nature and identity of the chooser. Kierkegaard’s knight of faith and Nietzsche’s Übermensch are exemplars who define the nature of their own existence. These idealized individuals invent their own values and create the very terms under which they excel. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche were also precursors to other intellectual movements, including postmodernism, nihilism, and various strands of psychology.
- photo by Mitch Waxman
Several of the less moribund residents of Calvary were observed, feeding upon the grassy hillside. When queried as to the location of my well hidden foil, they answered with aloof indifference, and the seeming leader of their flock began to extrude bodily waste. They were not startled by my presence, here in this lonely place, but most animals know that I mean them no harm and hardly react to me.
They did seem to be a bit startled when I said the name which is not to be uttered out loud.
Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics to animals or non-living things, phenomena, material states and objects or abstract concepts. Examples include animals and plants and forces of nature such as winds, rain or the sun depicted as creatures with human motivations, and/or the abilities to reason and converse. The term derives from the combination of the Greek ἄνθρωπος (ánthrōpos), “human” and μορφή (morphē), “shape” or “form”.It is strongly associated with art and storytelling where it has ancient roots. Most cultures possess a long-standing fable tradition with anthropomorphised animals as characters that can stand as commonly recognised types of human behavior.
- photo by Mitch Waxman
Enigma, my search for the elusive final resting place of the Massachusetts based dealer in far eastern art has taken me to distant and forgotten sections of the City of Greater New York. I have consulted with asiatic mystics in Manhattan’s Chinatown, visited a heretical Kabbalist in Brooklyn, and have drawn the ire of certain extant allies of the dead man whose influence and reach extend into the federal government and modernity itself who wish me to remain silent on the subject.
Willy Gilligan is a fictional character played by Bob Denver on the 1960s TV show Gilligan’s Island and its many sequels.
Gilligan wears a trademark red shirt, pale trousers and white navy cap. He was the first mate on the S. S. Minnow when, during a storm, he threw an anchor overboard without the line attached, which left the boat shipwrecked on an “uncharted” desert island with all aboard. Gilligan is considered a cultural icon and is frequently seen as the show’s breakout character.
In the U.S. Navy, Gilligan served with The Skipper, and saved the Skipper from being struck and killed by a runaway depth charge. After retirement, The Skipper used his savings to buy the Minnow, and hired his “little buddy” Gilligan as first mate.
Gilligan’s past and family were not mentioned during the series, except for his older brother, from whom he swiped his ever-present red shirt, a sister whose best friend was broken up by her boyfriend, and an uncle who was apparently illiterate. He once mentioned he was born in Pennsylvania, but no city was specified. He would sometimes mention his childhood friends, Skinny Mulligan and Fatso Flannigan, possibly implying that he came from a predominately Irish-American neighborhood.
- photo by Mitch Waxman
This place is called Calvary. The word is derived from several imperial dialects, which translate the aramaic Gûlgaltâ into Greek as Golgotha or alternately as “place of [the] skull” – Κρανίου Τόπος (Kraniou Topos) and then into Latin as Calvariae Locus. However you say it, it indicates the site of the crucifixion of the Christ outside of Jerusalem, and the anticlimax of the New Testament.
Modernity translates the term as Calvary. First Calvary, of course, is the St. Calixtus section of the great necropolis.
Pope Saint Callixtus I or Callistus I was pope from about 217 to about 222, during the reigns of the Roman Emperors Elagabalus and Alexander Severus. He was martyred for his Christian faith and is a saint of the Roman Catholic Church.His contemporary and enemy, the author of Philosophumena (probably Hippolytus of Rome), relates that Callixtus, as a young slave, was put in charge of collected funds by his master Carpophorus, funds which were given as alms by other Christians for the care of widows and orphans; Callixtus lost the funds and fled from Rome, but was caught near Portus. According to the tale, Callixtus jumped overboard to avoid capture but was rescued and taken back to his master. He was released at the request of the creditors, who hoped he might be able to recover some of the money, but was rearrested for fighting in a synagogue when he tried to borrow money or collect debts from some Jews. Philosophumena claims that, denounced as a Christian, Callixtus was sentenced to work in the mines of Sardinia. He was released with other Christians at the request of Hyacinthus, a eunuch presbyter, who represented Marcia, the favourite mistress of Emperor Commodus. At this time his health was so weakened that his fellow Christians sent him to Antium to recuperate and he was given a pension by Pope Victor I. Callixtus was the deacon to whom Pope Zephyrinus entrusted the burial chambers along the Appian Way. In the third century, nine Bishops of Rome were interred in the Catacomb of Callixtus, now also called the Capella dei Papi. These catacombs were rediscovered by the archaeologist Giovanni Battista de Rossi in 1849.